When Holland Taylor won an Emmy for her role as the sexually predatory judge in "The Practice" in 1999, she held the trophy aloft for a moment, paused, and exclaimed: "Overnight!" She was joking, of course. Her win, she said, was placing "a flag on the moon for women over 40." She has been nominated four other times, this year for the second time for her role in "Two And A Half Men"
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Taylor plays Evelyn Harper, the narcissistic mother to Alan (Jon Cryer, pictured left) and Charlie (played by Charlie Sheen). "I've often played very strong, flashy, kind of inadvertently mean women. I am not that way in my real life," Taylor has said. "Holland has an innate sweetness," the series' co-creator Chuck Lorre has said, "which enables her to make a character, who could be very toxic, alluring."
Taylor has made a specialty of playing mothers, even when young. Here she is playing Jim Carrey's mother in "The Truman Show" with Laura Linney. She also mothered Nicole Kidman in "To Die For" and in 1982 was Princess Diana's mother Frances Shand Kydd in the made-for-TV film "The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana."
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Now she is playing a grandmother, to Angus T. Jones, who plays Jake Harper, the half in "Two And A Half Men". Holland herself never married, and has no children, though she is close to her nieces and nephews -- one of whom, Brad Anderson, has directed her in several films.
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Here, Taylor attends a function in 2005 of the magazine for the American Association of Retired Persons. Born in Philadelphia, she made her Broadway debut in 1965 with Anne Bancroft in "The Devils" and was primarily a stage actress until 1980, when she starred in the TV sitcom "Bosom Buddies," the ad agency boss of the character played by Tom Hanks.
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Taylor played Nancy Reagan in a film in 2001 called "The Day Reagan Was Shot." At left, Taylor is attending the premiere. At right, Nancy Reagan poses outside Mr. Chows restaurant a few months later. A graduate of Bennington College, Taylor has been known for her grace and elegance. One critic called her "one of the few utterly graceful, attractive, elegant and technically accomplished actresses in our theater."
Here Holland Taylor performs at a benefit for a children's cancer support center in 2004. Even in some of her lacquered roles, a charitable natures comes through: Taylor played the hard-nosed law professor in "Legally Blonde," making it tough on Reese Witherspoon precisely so that she could survive in a man's world.
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If she is used to playing toxic characters, Taylor has said, in real life, "I tend to be very conciliatory and, I hope, kind and thoughtful and polite."